Datsun builds an able city car on the Kwid sourced CMF-A platform
TTHIS IS THE CAR Datsun should have re-launched the brand with. The carmaker hasn’t had it easy since the launch of the Go and Go+, because Indian customers want budget cars that don’t look built to a price. The Go and the Go+ can’t shake off that cheap car feel, everything from the features to the seats to poor quality Strada tyres feel distinctly budget. The Redi-Go feels like a step up. It will be the most affordable Datsun (and the most affordable car from the Renault-Nissan alliance) when it is launched this month and it will also be the best put together car in the Datsun portfolio. Datsun certainly hopes the Redi-Go will turn their fortunes around.
Initial impressions are certainly positive. From the outside, the Redi-Go is clearly a few notches
up on the style scale for entrylevel hatchbacks. Its got plenty of cuts and creases, sharp looking headlamps, a well sculpted bonnet, a bold trapezoidal Datsun grille and a tallboy stance that gives the Redi-Go enough cabin space for four adults. It is built on the CMF-A platform borrowed from the Renault Kwid but the Datsun is smaller than its donor cousin. It is 250mm shorter in length and 19mm narrower in width but is 63mm taller than the Kwid. Just a glance at this car gives you a feeling it will be positioned under the Kwid to keep clear brand differentiation between the two. The Redi-Go gets a 2348mm wheelbase, which is 74mm lesser than the Kwid. It is compact then, but without clawing into the car’s interior space. That’s good because if the interior got any smaller, the Datsun would lose its edge over a Maruti Alto.
During our drive in and around Kolkata, there was a lot of curiosity about the small hatchback. Despite Datsun’s noticeably low sales, the brand seems to be reaching out to its target audience. Datsun may be a relatively new brand in India but its association with Nissan is rubbing off in its market awareness. The tallboy stance, the boomerang shaped tail lights and a first in segment LED DRLs in addition to the
The Redi-Go is clearly a few notches up on the style scale for entry-level hatchbacks
smart front end, give the Redi-Go its distinct identity. Despite sharing the platform, powertrain and more than a few parts, the Redi-Go looks nothing like the Kwid, which is why it gets the new car glance from passersby.
The 799cc petrol unit from the Kwid makes an identical 53bhp of power and 72Nm of torque and sends power to the front wheels via the same 5-speed manual gearbox with the same chosen gear ratios. It is nippy in the city since most of the torque is made low down the rev band. The Redi-Go is lighter than the Kwid by about 25kg so in theory it should accelerate faster, but it also sits higher above the ground with a 185mm ground clearance (180mm for the Kwid) and it has a taller stance so we’d have to clock them back to back to find out which one is faster. Fast however is a relative term. It officially takes 15.9 seconds to reach 100kmph from standstill and tops out at 140kmph but in our experience, it felt slower. It is after all a city car with a puny 0.8-litre engine so expecting quick times out of it is optimistic.
The engine is small so highway thrills are out of question, but if weaving through thick traffic and plugging the smallest of gaps is your idea of fun, the Redi-Go can be a hoot. There’s no feel in the electric steering but it doesn’t feel loose, so you can point and shoot into open spots in traffic all the time. Ride quality, like the Kwid, is simply fantastic for this segment. The car is so light that it tip-toes over undulations with the grace of a ballet dancer. The flip side is that this lack of weight makes it unnerving at high speeds, speeds you shouldn’t be doing in a small car like this. What’s also not confidence inspiring is the progression in the brakes. It bites hard after little initial hold and that means you will have to achieve braking mastery soon to keep your front bumper clean. There’s also no ABS, a feature we think should be offered at least as an option on all cars irrespective of price.
Safety features aside, the Kwid is known for its first in class touchscreen infotainment system. The interior of the Redi-Go doesn’t feature the touchscreen and so you don’t get navigation and bluetooth connectivity. That’s a big miss. The Redi-Go also gets a conventional instrument cluster, not the cool digital readout from
If weaving through thick traffic and plugging the smallest of gaps is your idea of fun, the RediGo is a hoot
the Kwid. The digital rev counter is too small, making it difficult to read and you’ll have to reach down near the gearlever to operate the power window switches. The door pockets are too slender, as are the doors. You can in fact feel the power window motors shake the mirrors on their way up. The saving grace is the steering wheel borrowed from the Kwid and I also liked the seating position, giving you a good view out of the large greenhouse.
The Redi-Go officially returns 25.17 kilometres to the litre and has a 28-litre fuel tank. Theoretically it gets a range of 705km, but my experience in the Kwid says I should expect a 15-17kmpl average on a regular basis. That will give you 450km to run a full tank dry.
Besides the Kwid, the Redi-Go will take on the Maruti Alto and Hyundai Eon in this entry level hatchback segment. Datsun is working on increasing its network and a wider reach in the launch year of the Redi-Go should give it a good shot at success. We are told new outlets are being added every other week.
If there’s one trump card the Kwid played well, it was its aggressive pricing. The Redi-Go is down on a few features and is a smaller car so it should be priced at least about `20,000-30,000 less than the Kwid. Expect prices to start from `2.4 lakh, going up to `3.4 lakh for the fully loaded airbag and music system equipped version.
The Datsun Redi-Go then is not a completely new car, but inside and out, feels like one. It’s built on a modern modular platform unlike the older V platform its siblings come with and gets well tuned suspension, a nippy little motor for city use and good enough space for its occupants. Datsun isn’t breaking any new ground here like Renault did with the Kwid, but then that was not needed. The mechanicals are competent and the face is fresh. It gives the buyer a choice without looking like a badge-engineered job. That gives it more longevity. If Datsun can position it well away from the Kwid, the Redi-Go should see similar levels of success.
Above: LED DRLs work when the headlights are off. Left: Engine is the same 0.8-litre petrol unit that powers the Kwid. Bottom: Completely new interior misses out on a few features